BMX Meets Parkour: See Unthinkable Bike Tricks

Tim Knoll’s incredible style of street riding will blow you away.
By Faye Brozek and Rajiv Desai

One of, if not the most creative BMX rider in the world, Tim Knoll takes his incredible style of street riding to Berlin. The American rider describes his style as BMX Freestyle; think gymnastics meets BMX. Influenced by acrobatics, his riding takes tricks to a whole new level.

Watch what happens when he takes on the streets of Berlin above and scroll down for more about the rider behind the amazing edit.

American BMX rider Tim Knoll headstands on his bike in Berlin, Germany on July 15, 2015
Head over handlebars © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool

When did you start riding?

From ages 10–13 I was jumping curbs and small dirt jumps, but I wasn't a dedicated rider at that point. I became obsessed with flatland when I was 15. I learned my beginner-level tricks from bmxtrix.com, a timeless website that hasn't been updated since 2003. I was consistently motivated during that time, but seeing any type of BMX or skateboarding on TV would trigger the impulse to ride.

American BMX freestyle rider Tim Knoll stands with his BMX bike in Berlin, Germany on July 16, 2015
Knee pads at the ready © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool
BMX freestyler Tim Knoll performs a limbo underneath a bike stand in Berlin, Germany on July 15, 2015
Tim is never in limbo © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool

Has it always been about biking, or have other sports influenced you?

Before I started riding flatland I was a gymnast from 7–13 [years old] and a diver in high school. I spent a lot of free time flipping around on my family's backyard trampoline as an early adolescent, too. During my riding years I've been really inspired by skateboarding.

Tim Knoll with a headstand in a Berlin Railway Station on July 15, 2015
A head for tricks © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool

How exactly would you describe your riding style?

I refer to what I do simply as BMX freestyle. I've incorporated my gymnastic ability to give my style more of an acrobatic flair. I have my roots in flatland, but for the past several years I've avoided limiting my tricks to a strictly two dimensional surface that is synonymous with conventional flatland riding.

Tim Knoll performs with his BMX in Berlin, Germany on July 16, 2016
Step on it © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool

I also intentionally touch the ground during some of my tricks, which isn't allowed in conventional flatland. Back in 2008 I started using different objects within an urban environment, like street riders do, to create new combos and tricks.

American BMX rider Tim Knoll performs a freestyle trick in Berlin, Germany on July 15, 2015
In a league of his own © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool

Combining flatland-style tricks with the use of any three dimensional object is a vastly unexplored frontier in BMX.

American BMX rider Tim Knoll pulls off a reverse nose bump in Berlin, Germany on July 16, 2015.
Nose bumps in reverse © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool

Some of the tricks you do are pretty dangerous, how do you approach trying something for the first time?

When I come up with a trick idea, I simply go out and try it. There's nothing too elaborate about the process. I will say that most ideas work a lot better in the imagination. I don't have access to sophisticated safety equipment, the most I do is wear pads, a helmet and a mouthguard when I feel nervous about trying a new trick.

What's the worse injury you've had out on the BMX?

A couple of shoulder dislocations.

Tim Knoll's stone roll during his BMX film shoot in Berlin on July 15, 2015
The roll shoot © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool
Tim Knoll performs a roll over a stone in a Berlin park on July 16, 2015.
Rock 'n' Roll © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool

Were there any really special moments for you during the shooting?

There were several special moments. Pulling off each trick that I wasn't able to practice in my hometown was very fulfilling. Working with Andi, Toni, Rutger Pauw and the crew was a terrific experience.

While Rutger and I were shooting some photos one day, Danny MacAskill called him and from there I got to speak to Danny over the phone for the first time – that was special.

BMX freestyler Tim Knoll spins around a pole in Berlin, Germany on July 15, 2015
Spin cycle © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool

I want to motivate anybody to get out and ride BMX, skate, or do whatever. When I was younger, I was motivated by so many pro riders – to be in a similar position where I can motivate or inspire others is a privilege and a tremendous honor.

— Tim Knoll

BMX freestyler Tim Knoll captured by a film crew in Berlin, Germany on July 15, 2015
The crew get a profile shot of Tim © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool

How did you find Berlin? Did the city and the spots you chose offer any challenges that you don't face back in the United States?

The filmmakers I worked with, Andi and Toni Tillmann, actually suggested Berlin. I was eager to go there because it's a city I've always wanted to visit from a tourist standpoint. After watching Erik Elstran's Berlin edit, where he uses various in-ground trampolines that are scattered throughout the city, I was eager to film that bike/trampoline transfer in my edit.

Andi and Toni live in Munich so they were able to visit Berlin months prior to the shoot to check out the spots I requested, and to scope out other possible locations. They took pictures and measurements of the spots and apparatus in order to give me a good idea of what to expect. I was able to envision trick ideas for each of the spots I found interesting.

BMX freestyler Tim Knoll checks over footage filmed by a film crew in Berlin on July 15, 2015
Checking back the footage © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool
BMX rider Tim Knoll performs in Berlin, Germany during his Red Bull Bike film shoot
Freestyle and then some... © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool

What bike did you ride? Did it have to be adapted in any way for your style?

My set-up is a flatland/street hybrid. I ride the longer Terry Adams frame made by Deco, with a Deco street fork and custom bars from London Bikes. I ride a long, non-flatland stem so I can use it as a standing platform when the bike is upside-down. I ride steel pegs on my grinding side and aluminium on the other. I use a freecoaster and both brakes.

American BMX rider Tim Knoll poses for a portrait in Berlin on 19 July, 2015
Unique and original, there’s only one Tim Knoll © Rutger Pauw/Red Bull Content Pool

Any shout-outs?

Chad DeGroot, Terry Adams, Pat Fisher, all of my family, especially my brother, Phil, who made the music for my YouTube videos and has had faith in me ever since I started riding.

Look out for more creative stunts on Tim Knoll's YouTube page. Plus you can keep up with his latest tricks on Facebook.

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